Swiss unions demand 5.000 franc a month minimum wage

Swiss unions demand 5.000 franc a month minimum wage

Unia, one of the largest trade unions in Switzerland, has launched a campaign demanding Swiss companies raise salaries by the autumn of this year in order to combat continued losses in purchasing power. Officials from the union have warned that they are willing to take decisive action to achieve their goal, with a massive demonstration in Bern now planned for later in the year.

Switzerland in the midst of a wage crisis, says union

In a statement, Unia announced that it had launched a new campaign which demands “general wage increases” for the majority of jobs in Switzerland. “The question of wages must move back to the centre of the social debate,” the union wrote.

When asked why they were taking action now, officials stated that recent months have seen “high inflation, skyrocketing health insurance premiums and increasing spending on energy and rent, while wages are stagnating.” The body argued that the crisis had hit low and middle-income earners the hardest, noting that many today have less to live on and more and more people have resorted to claiming welfare.

4.500 to 5.000 Swiss franc monthly wage proposed

As part of their campaign, Unia has demanded that a minimum wage of between 4.500 and 5.000 Swiss francs a month (26 and 28,8 francs an hour) be put in place nationwide. They claimed that the higher salary would better reflect the contributions of staff, arguing that company "profits and increases in productivity must finally be distributed more fairly."

"It's about whether you can make ends meet, whether you can still pay the rent, the heating costs, the health insurance premiums…What kind of world do employers live in... [they] whine all day long about a shortage of skilled workers, but demand wage cuts from their employees? That has to end,” noted Unia president Vania Alleva. She concluded that if nothing is done, “Social peace is in danger.”

Unia promises national demonstration in September 

Considering the events of recent weeks, it can be argued that the wind is in Unia’s sails. After wage inequality was put in sharp relief by the recent women's strikes in Switzerland,  Zurich and Winterthur agreed to a minimum wage of between 23 and 23,90 francs an hour at a recent referendum, with many other Swiss cities set to follow with their own votes. 

To achieve their goal, Unia said they are “highly motivated” to “take the fight for higher wages and better pensions onto the streets”, according to Watson. That is why, along with the Swiss Federation of Trade Unions, they will hold a national demonstration in Bern on September 16.

Thumb image credit: Michael Derrer Fuchs /

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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